Globe columnist Alex Beam talked to Jim and Margery about choosing between attending a Shakespeare play and watching the Patriots AFC championship game.

Credit: Ralph Daily / Flickr

Alex Beam On Choosing Shakespeare over Playoff Football

January 16, 2014

Boston Globe columnist Alex Beam joined Jim Braude and Margery Eagan in Studio Three as Thursday's Open Mic guest. Beam talked about the crisis of conscience he faced when previous plans to see Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night" conflicted with the Patriots-Broncos AFC championship game. He then weighed in on the effectiveness of political protest, and offered thoughts on members of the electorate who are enthusiastic about marijuana.

So, according to your latest column, you won't be watching the Patriots this weekend.

I like the Patriots, I think this is an interesting run. (...) I've been waiting months -- I once saw this famous Shakespearean actor named Mark Rylance in a production called "Jerusalem," it was in both London and New York, it was an amazing contemporary British play, and Rylance is a big deal, he's a great, great actor — anyway, my friend who works at an incredibly influential New York publication got me tickets to see "Twelfth Night" Sunday, at 3 PM. It's a complete nightmare for me.

But in your column you say that "Twelfth Night" tickets take precedence over the historic matchup between Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.

I'm going to New York, where my wife lives and works, and I'm going to see Rylance. (...) I have this really weird love affair with "Twelfth Night," which I've never seen, because it's mentioned in "Shakespeare in Love." (...) It blew my mind, it's so romantically done in that movie, which is a great movie!

According to your column you're attending a "pagan drum circle" in Florida over going to hear Yale Divinity professor Peter Hawkin "expatiate on the 'Psalms and Their Literary Afterlife' on the Trinity Church.

This guy has a bungalow that's like three blocks off the beach, and he loves to go to this drum circle. It's a pretty big deal on the coast of Florida. (...) It's all your superannuated hippies, your "pot" crowd as you're so eager to discuss. It's all these super gray-haired, weird people who got left out of the California thing, so they had to drift to Florida. It's on the beach, at sunset, some women take their clothes off, if you can believe it.

The Patriots-Broncos game starts at 3. Will you watch the pregame festivities?

I hate pregame. I just got a smartphone, I hate it, I'm not going to even bring my smartphone. I'll go up to somebody at intermission and ask what the score is.

According to the Boston Herald, Pats fans are hitting up Denver pot shops before the big game. They think the cannabis will keep people less violent.

Hilarious. But there's no reefer allowed in appropriately-named "Mile High Stadium," alas.

You could buy the pot and eat your brownies at the stadium.

I guess you've got this all figured out.

Colorado's getting a 22 percent "grass tax," as they call it, on the marijuana they sell.

New Hampshire's proposing 30 percent.

New Hampshire's proposing full legalization now. Will that motivate young voters?

I agree with Joan Vennochi's sentiments. (...) That's Joan at her crotchety best. That column is grade-A. I just like the fact that she's being really nasty and calling out these Democratic hypocrites. I think she makes a great argument that it's just a cynical vote-grab.

A growing number of people are libertarian-leaning. Marijuana legalization has huge appeal.

I don't know if you're right. (...) This, gay marriage, state-organized healthcare. What's darned interesting is we're going to see, we don't have to hypothesize about the legalization of marijuana. We have a purple state, Colorado [involved in this]. We'll see. (...) Massachusetts, Vermont, we're seeing how state-organized healthcare will work out. (...) That's genuinely interesting.

What is it you expect to see in Colorado and Washington where marijuana's now legal?

Suppose crapola street crime declines. (...) I really feel an open-minded person would say, it could go either way. Say, my kid dropped out of high school because he was earning money fixing cars, and spent all his money smoking legal pot, and he's a wreck. I don't know, that's a bad story for a parent.

But illegality doesn't prevent people from smoking pot.

Look at gay marriage — we've lived with it in this state for 10 years. We're okay.

Harvard Prof. Lawrence Lessig is leading a protest called "New Hampshire Rebellion," to raise awareness of the influence of mondy on politics. Why don't Americans protest like this anymore?

I bet among the three of us we protested against everything. (...) I campaigned for [Sen. Eugene] McCarthy, everybody campaigned for McCarthy. (...) I actually don't agree [with the premise]. Don't you remember when [SOPA and PIPA] were going to be passed, those two deleterious bills? There was this amazing protest, those bills were gone.

What about the protests at the Seabrook nuclear power plant?

Yeah, I had a baton beating up protestors — just a joke of course. Anti-nuclear really wasn't my issue. I don't know when the last time was I got off the couch.

What would get you off the couch?

I would eagerly work for any politician in America, Democrat or Republican. I really believe in the people that put themselves on the line. I've worked locally, I've distributed stuff. I'm a completely upside-down person. I heard what Lessig said. I think it takes a lot of stamina, courage, extroversion, and confidence to run for office in America. (...) I have, in fact, gotten off my ass for people who are willing to go into politics.

Can you email me from your pagan drum circle?

I'll send you a photograph. I'll be shirtless, so you might not want to print that photograph.

>> Listen to the complete interview with Alex Beam, and read more by him at

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